Constant advances in modern technology have made remote working more achievable than ever. Despite numerous case studies which illustrate the multitude of positive benefits, there is still a widespread distrust of flexible working in the UK. Henley Business School surveyed more than 250 companies who have adopted a shorter working week. If we applied Henley's findings to the wider UK market, we could expect to see:
• A 78% increase in employee satisfaction, a 64% increase in staff productivity and a 70% decrease in sick days.
• An estimated 557.8 million fewer miles driven per week meaning less fuel consumption and a reduction in pollution.
• A notable increase in the attraction and retention of a more diverse workforce.
Flexible working hours allow employees to customise their hours from the normal company start and stop time to accommodate their hobbies, activities, and responsibilities outside of work. The four-day working week may not be suitable for everyone, but there are a number of different agility arrangements that businesses may offer their employees, including (but not limited to):
Flexible working hours/Flexitime: allowing employees to fit their working hours around agreed core times. This is a popular system, which we have introduced here at Gleeson Recruitment Group - our employees may choose to start or finish any time between 7 am and 7 pm so long as they complete their contracted 8.5 hours a day. This has benefited our working parents who can alleviate and support their partners in the school run, reduce the cost of childcare and even avoid rush hour traffic. It has also been taken advantage of by our lunchtime gym enthusiasts.
Telecommuting: one of the most significant advantages that modern tech has allowed us, is the ability to work remotely - enabling employees to choose their ideal working environment. We have invested in the software, tech and tools so that our staff can set up office no matter where they are. Unless you are a fulltime remote worker, your physical presence may be required in the office to attend meetings or training on certain days. But on other days, so long as you are reachable via phone and email, and you have a secure internet source, nothing is stopping you.
Working from home: I know what you are thinking - no one actually works from home, they will simply leave their laptop online whilst they lay across the sofa, binge-watching 8 consecutive episodes of their favourite show, in their pyjamas, eating cereal out of a pan, right? Wrong. Studies have shown that working from home increases productivity. Management at Gleeson encourages working from home when staff feel it’s needed. Many studies suggest that employees are conscious of proving that they can work effectively from home to justify the arrangement – they are likely to start work sooner, finish later and work during the hours that best suit their energy cycles (yes, that’s a thing).
Compressed hours: Does exactly what it says on the tin - working your usual agreed hours in fewer days. Our employees often request compressed hours to accommodate their studies, childcare arrangements or any other weekly commitments, responsibilities or hobbies they may have. We have recently rolled out a 4.5 day working week across the business because implementing flexible working hours has shown a significant increase in productivity (and staff wellbeing) and we trust our employees to get their work done.
With countless internet sources and an entire computer system in your smartphone, do you need to be in the office to be productive? Is it necessary or habitual? Is it presenteeism or immutable? Flexible working shouldn’t be out of the ordinary, and policies shouldn’t just be aimed at working parents. We have the tech and the internet access we need to work remotely from anywhere in the world, so why not change it up? Allowing employees to deviate from traditional working hours and determine their work schedule and environment shows them that they are trusted and valued by the company. Not to mention…
… it is time spent smarter– sitting shoulder to shoulder for eight hours straight does not guarantee productivity. Allowing employees to tailor their working hours to the times that they are most productive naturally increases efficiency – meaning more and higher quality work. Flexible working also eliminates the countless wasted hours of the morning commute (or at the very least reduces them) saving both employees both time and money.
… there are fewer distractions– though some employees thrive in the office hubbub, others may prefer to pick their surroundings. Some love the bustle of an office environment, the productivity peer pressure - others prefer the solemn silence of a contemporary co-work space. No matter where you work from, getting out of the office means no lengthy meetings, no business dress and no communal coffee corner chit-chat.
… it improves wellbeing– enabling employees to adapt their working hours around their commitments and hobbies outside of work inevitably leads to a better work/life balance. As a result, employees have the time they need to focus on their physical and mental wellbeing, reducing psychological stress and improving retention. This means happier, healthier and I dare say dedicated staff.
You can take an employee out of the office, but you can’t take the office out of the employee. Tech offers us the ability to work from home, but also the opportunity to never stop working. With never-ending email chains, cloud computing and telecommuting, some could argue that it’s now harder than ever to ‘leave the office’. That’s why it’s imperative to set out workplace boundaries and expectations as to when work should begin and end. No single schedule is right for everyone… some love the bustle of an office environment, the productivity peer pressure - others prefer the solemn silence of a contemporary co-work space or the background noise of a coffee shop. Sure, not all industries can partake in flexitime, and not all employees prefer it. But having the option feels like a step in the right direction, to future proof your working environment.